The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Bell Helicopter a USD581 million contract that includes the delivery of AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. The contract, which was announced by the DoD on 26 August but awarded the day before, covers the manufacture and delivery of 15 Lot 12 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, 19 Lot 12 AH-1Zs, one Lot 13 UH-1Y, and 21 auxiliary fuel kits for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and government of Pakistan. Pakistan requested the sale of 15 AH-1Z helicopters in April, and this announcement is the first official confirmation that a deal has been signed. While the notification does not say how many of the 15 helicopters have been signed for at this stage, it states that 10% (USD57.9 million) of the overall contract value covers the sale to the government of Pakistan. This suggests that this is an initial deal for the first two helicopters only, with contracts for the remaining 13 (plus spares and support) to follow.
Interesting. The AH-1Z (and the UH-1Y) were developed very specifically for the US Marines. That level of specificity would tend to make it less appealing for most operators. Indeed, most foreign air forces would generally rather operate either the AH-64 Apache, or a completely foreign design. One issue is, given the relatively small fleet size, spare parts are bound to be more expensive. Of course, given our “frienemy” status with Pakistan, it may be that the US isn’t exactly eager to share the Apache with them. For that matter, India might have asked us not to provide Apache to Pakistan.
As far as I know, this is the first foreign sale of the Viper.